Frobisher (Doctor Who)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Doctor Who character
Affiliated Sixth Doctor
Seventh Doctor
Species Whifferdill
Home planet Xenon
Home era 82nd century
First appearance The Shape Shifter
Last appearance

Where No One Knows Your Name (in story)

Prisoners of Time (chronologically)
Portrayed by Robert Jezek (voice)

Frobisher is a fictional character who appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who in the 1980s. He was a companion of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors.

Frobisher is a Whifferdill, one of a shape-changing extraterrestrial race. What is assumed to be his natural form, as seen in his first comic strip appearance, is humanoid, pale yellow in color, three to four feet in height, with a round, featureless head, and wearing spectacles. However, he preferred to spend his free time in the form of a penguin.

When he first appeared in The Shape Shifter (DWM #88-#89), written by Steve Parkhouse with art by John Ridgway, Frobisher was a private investigator calling himself "Avan Tarklu" (a play on the phrase "Haven't a clue"). He came across the Doctor when an enemy of the Time Lord, Josiah Dogbolter, had placed a bounty on the Doctor in an effort to acquire his secrets and his TARDIS. After infiltrating the TARDIS, instead of turning the Doctor in for the money, Tarklu decided that he liked the Time Lord and helped him against Dogbolter; both split the advance bounty Tarklu had been given from Dogbolter. He then joined the Doctor on his journeys. He assumed the name of Frobisher because he felt that it sounded British and thought that the Doctor would like that.

Frobisher was once married to Francine, another Whifferdill, who left him because she was a better detective than he was. Apparently, he was very fond of her in penguin form, and so adopted it to remind himself of her. It is not a static form, however, as Frobisher has been seen emulating different types of penguins.

Frobisher travelled with the Doctor for quite a long time, occasionally parting company only for their paths to cross once again. When he first came on board the TARDIS, the Sixth Doctor was travelling alone, but in Kane's Story (DWM #104), the Sixth Doctor's television companion Peri Brown returned, apparently placing Frobisher's stories between the unmade Season 23 and The Trial of a Time Lord (indicated by Peri's changing hairstyles in the comic strip compared to her television appearances). Frobisher appears, traveling with the Doctor and Peri, in IDW's 50th Anniversary comic book miniseries Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #6. This appearance was illustrated by John Ridgway. The end of the issue hints at a larger role for Frobisher in the miniseries.

Frobisher was obviously not with the Doctor and Peri in Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord, but no explanation was provided in the comic strip for his absence. Frobisher's last appearance prior to Trial was The World Shapers (DWM #127-#129).

At the end of Trial, it was revealed that Peri had married King Yrcanos and settled on the planet Krontep. The graphic novel The Age of Chaos, written by Colin Baker (who played the Sixth Doctor) revealed that Frobisher and the Sixth Doctor visited Peri's descendants several times, so Frobisher must have rejoined the Doctor after Trial in an unseen story. After this story, Frobisher apparently departs again, since he is never again seen travelling with the Sixth Doctor.

Frobisher was ultimately reunited with the Seventh Doctor, once again "off-screen", and eventually departed permanently in A Cold Day in Hell (DWM #130-#133). Subsequently, he was seen to have set up a bar called "Bish's" and remarried to a bird-like humanoid named Caralla (Where Nobody Knows Your Name, DWM #329). Frobisher therefore had at least three distinct tenures with the Doctor, only one of which has a depicted ending. Frobisher is shown to have been in contact with the Tenth Doctor in Prisoners of Time #6, the future Doctor contacting his past self's TARDIS to warn Frobisher about a mysterious enemy abducting his past companions; on the Tenth's instructions, Frobisher allows himself to be captured while posing as Peri, allowing him to escape captivity and sabotage their foe's headquarters to rescue his fellow companions.

The canonicity of Frobisher as a companion is open to interpretation, as he has never appeared in a televised serial. (Especially when you consider that all the TV show's producers thus far have refused to define a canon of any sort.) Since his departure from the comic strip, Frobisher has occasionally appeared alongside the Sixth Doctor in spin-off media. These include a novel, Mission: Impractical[1] by David A. McIntee and two Big Finish Productions audio plays, The Holy Terror[2] and The Maltese Penguin,[3] both written by Rob Shearman and featuring Robert Jezek as Frobisher. Maltese Penguin also featured Dogbolter (Toby Longworth) and Francine (Jane Goddard). These audio adventures take place between the stories The World Shapers and The Age of Chaos.[4]

In the novel The Scarlet Empress, Iris Wildthyme claimed that a shape-changer who assumed the shape of a penguin was once her companion.[5] This could refer to Frobisher, Francine, or someone else entirely. However, like much of everything associated with Wildthyme, this claim may or may not have anything to do with actual events.

Not to be confused with the human character of John Frobisher, played by Peter Capaldi in spin-off TV series Torchwood's third series.


  1. ^ McIntee, David A. (1998). Mission: Impractical. BBC Books. p. 280. ISBN 0-563-40592-9. 
  2. ^ Shearman, Robert (2000). Doctor Who: The Holy Terror. Big Finish Productions. ISBN 1-903654-10-6. 
  3. ^ Shearman, Robert (2002). Doctor Who: The Maltese Penguin. Big Finish Productions. ISBN 1-903654-90-4. 
  4. ^ "The Holy Terror". Big Finish Productions website. Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Magrs, Paul (1998). The Scarlet Empress. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-40595-3.